May 02, 2016

Short Talk on the Mona Lisa

by Anne Carson

Every day he poured his question into her, as
you pour water from one vessel into another,
and it poured back. Don’t tell me he was paint-
ing his mother, lust, et cetera. There is a mo-
ment when the water is not in one vessel nor in
the other–what a thirst it was, and he sup-
posed that when the canvas became completely
empty he would stop. But women are strong.
She knew vessels, she knew water, she knew
mortal thirst.


Rajeev Singh said...

Does it mean that Leonardo's water (his thoughts, lust, passion whatever) was totally taken in by Mona in the end, she being a strong woman, or vessel? What was Leonardo expecting when the canvas would be completely empty - where would the water go? Into some kind of other dimension between them, the two becoming one and not needing any medium?

You look quite like a beautiful muse yourself in the profile pic, r.c.s, being captured at a moment of serenity by deft hands that understood beauty. I wish there were more images like that.

robin cheryl said...

You know, I'm not sure that she did take in his water by the end. The lines that most strike me are, "Don't tell me he was paint- / ing his mother, lust, et cetera. There is a mo- / ment when the water is not in one vessel nor in / the other". There's this moment of suspension, a space between creator and his subject/creation, and that seems like the hinge on which the poem swings... but I'm not certain what I make of it. It's a puzzling little poem!

And that line you mentioned ("and he sup- / posed that when the canvas became completely / empty he would stop") is the line that puzzles me most! He's painting, so you'd think he'd be filling the canvas, not emptying it. In what way is the canvas "empty" upon completion? Curiouser and curiouser.

A pleasure to read your comment and be confused right along with you. ;)

Rajeev Singh said...

Hey, you didn't say anything about your profile pic that I praised. It's worthy of a poem itself. May be I'll write one, although I don't believe I'm good at it. :)

I've read several poems where it was quite a job to deduce a meaning. May be that's what poetry is about - every reader is impacted in a different way and umpteen meanings can be derived.

Have you read Charles Baudelaire? I love his lyrical eroticism in the Flowers of Evil; it's like bottling a twisted brand of sex in a beautiful artifact. I like his thinking too. I have used several quotes of his in my novel (yet to be published). Look at these:

A work of art should be like a well-planned crime.

In this horror of solitude, this need to lose his ego in exterior flesh, which man calls grandly the need for love.

I have cultivated my hysteria with pleasure and terror.

Clive Barker seems to be a match for him among modern writers, although his field is mostly novels and paintings, both laced with a sensuality that is as appealing as his horror and fantasy are dark.

robin cheryl said...

I intentionally didn't mention my profile pic because I am awkward and only know how to dodge compliments. :) But thank you!

I haven't read any Charles Baudelaire, or Clive Barker for that matter. Perhaps I'll look at their stuff.

You're working on a novel? That's exciting! And a lot of work, I imagine. I've only written short stories (and occasional poetry), myself — I'm not sure I have the attention span for a novel. It's an endeavor, that's for sure. How's it coming along?

Rajeev Singh said...

Your current Goodreads profile pic with the pink jacket and the polka-dotted dress has been adorning my desktop as a stunning wallpaper right from the day you posted it. You look so cute in that pic that I felt like looking at you for hours. Now, I get to see you every time I'm using my laptop. :)

Before this, I had your other pic as a wallpaper too - the one you have here on this blog. Those flowers crowning your head and that necklace on your precious skin . . . I don't have words. I wish I had your poetic talent to write something on it. :)

Yeah, do read something from Charles Baudelaire. His poetry is darkly fantastic.

Clive Barker is known for both horror and fantasy. I think you'd like his fantasy better. He has written a YA series called Abarat too which includes his paintings also.

I've sent my novel out to some publishers and am waiting for response. I have another one in the works.

Novel-writing is certainly a lot of work but there are some very enjoyable moments to compensate for the drudgery and frustration. There is the added pleasure of going on without a fixed plot and stumbling upon all sorts of unexpected incidents.

Would you like to share your short stories with me? I've read and been bowled over by your poetry; I hope being overwhelmed by other forms of your writing too. :)

My email id is If you want, you can send me something to read. :) In any case, email will be a better way to communicate. These comments put it all in the public domain.

So nice to have a word with you, r.c.s. :)

Take Care